This weekend, we took a break from Smuggler’s Copter and Ishkanah, Grafwidow to cast Lightning Bolt and Blighted Agent in Modern at Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth and Brainstorm and Swords to Plowshares in dead-format-walking Legacy at the SCG Open in Baltimore.
In Dallas/Fort Worth (let’s call it DFW for the sake of brevity), the trophy would stay in Texas, as Austin-based Kevin Mackie and surprise champion Skred Red took down Corey Burkhart and Grixis Control in the final. The rest of the top 8 featured fairly well-known player Phil Napoli, as well as current Magic World Champion Brian Braun-Duin. Outside of the Skred Red and Grixis Control decks we saw in the final, the top 8 featured Dredge, 3 copies of Infect, a copy Jeskai Control, and a copy of R/G Titan. As expected, Modern yielded very diverse results, with 6 different archetypes represented in the elimination rounds.
However, the biggest surprise was the appearance of Skred Red, a deck that many people assumed to be a relic of the format, and a favorite of more casual players who love their niche archetypes. However, its impressive performance this weekend could push it into the spotlight. For those not familiar, Skred Red is a mono red control/prison deck that uses efficient removal spells like Lightning Bolt and its namesake card, Skred, to deal with creatures, and Blood Moon to lock decks out of the game. It eventually wins through its resilient Planeswalkers or value-centric creatures. In the past, this deck hasn’t been a big player, due in large part to its unfavorable matchup against many of Modern’s premier decks. However, the format may have shifted enough over the past few months to allow for this deck to be played without much fear of its worst matchups.
- Skred Red is viable? Possibly, and that’s exciting! A deck that has, for most of its existence, been viewed as a comical niche deck that you would tell your friends you beat in round 1 of the tournament. Now, it is sure to pick up some traction, so expect to face it outside of round.
- Infect and Dredge are the two best decks in the format. Dredge was the most popular day 2 deck, and Infect managed to put 3 copies in the top 8. Other decks stuck around in the day 2 metagame and top 8, but didn’t reach the numbers that Infect and Dredge did.
- Dedicated control is back! … maybe? Seeing both Grixis and Jeskai Control in the top 8 of this Grand Prix is a very good sign for the health of the format. Previously, there were too many linear strategies that were difficult to attack, that control deck had a hard time finding the correct build of the deck. Perhaps, this has been solved. Also, Torrential Gearhulk in Modern makes me very happy.
In Baltimore, Jonathan Orr was victorious with Shardless Sultai after he defeated Miracles master Joe Lossett in the final. Notable SCG Tour players Daryl Ayers, David Long, and Pro Tour veteran Gerard Fabiano also participated in the elimination rounds. In terms of archetypes that put copies into the top 8, Shardless Sultai, Miracles, Lands, Bant Deathblade, Loam, and Grixis Delver all participated. As expected, Legacy is an extremely diverse and healthy format. It’s unfortunate that we are slowly watching it die before our eyes. Enough moping! There isn’t much to talk about with the results of this event, as it is a typical Legacy event. Is Shardless Sultai now the best deck in the format? Not really, but it’s a viable archetype. How about Lands or Miracles, the two decks that had multiple copies in top 8? Not really, either, although the argument could be made for Miracles. Instead of “Legacy Takeaways”, I’ll instead write some Legacy tips for those looking to enter the format.
- Pick a deck and stick with it. Unlike Modern, where you are best off playing a lot of the different decks to learn the format, it’s better in Legacy to play one deck for a while, learn how to play it, learn its matchups, and by extension learn the format as a whole.
- Don’t try to metagame. Trying to metagame is a recipe for disaster in Legacy. Not only is the format incredibly healthy and diverse, but there are simply so many viable archetypes, that metagaming will frequently punish you.
- Have fun! Legacy is dying, so don’t torture yourself by trying to become one of the format’s elite players. In the future, Legacy Grand Prix will likely stop, and SCG has made it clear over the past few years that they love Legacy, but it isn’t where they want the Tour to go. So, for the mean time, enjoy Magic’s best format while it lasts (no bias here, whatsoever).
This weekend is Grand Prix Rotterdam, which features Team Limited, and the SCG Tour travels to Columbus, for a Modern Open. See you next week!
Until next time.